Monday, November 4, 2013

Using Notability for Guided Reading

I posted last year about how a high school math teacher was using Notability. Now here's a look at Notability in an elementary setting. 

Midway Elementary's Allison Chostner has a 1:1 iPad fourth grade classroom. She was looking for a way for guided reading to be more efficient for her students. So she started sharing digital materials using her Dropbox account. Now the students open their documents on the iPad, complete the work, and bring the iPads to discussions to share their thinking. Here's the details on how it can work for you. 

First you need to get Notability. It's an app that allows you to import documents from multiple locations, add your own content, then move back to any location you want. It does cost $2.99 (it's available for half-off in the Volume Purchasing Program through Apple). But the benefits far outweigh the cost. Once Notability has been installed on the iPads, you can have the students organize their school lives. Allison had her students create folders for reading, science, and other subjects. Here's what a student iPad might look like.

You can easily have students just create new notes in Notability and save them locally on the iPad. But then you're missing out on the efficiency piece. In the upper right corner, you'll see the action button. Press it, and you'll be able to choose where you want to look for your files. For Allison, it was easy for her to create a Dropbox account just for this purpose. She gave the students the login information so they could access their files. It's a one time step. Enter it as a class, and you're good to go. But you can also use Google Drive, webDav, or Box. Since we have a lot of classrooms using Google Apps for Education, it makes sense for students to login to their personal accounts. Once you're logged in, you'll see all of your files and folders. Choose the one you want and it opens up in a new note.

When you log in to your Drive account in Notability, you can only see your personal folders, not ones that are shared with you. So here's the scenario you'll want to follow if your students have their own Google accounts. First, you'll share a folder with all your students. Then you can create subfolders by subject if you want more organizational control. The students will need to get into their Google Drive app, open the shared folder, and then open the document in Notability. The iPad will flip over to Notability, they create a new note, and they are ready to go. 

Press the little dots in the upper right in order to access the "Open With" option.

Here's an example of a response that students might use for their reading groups. It's just a Google Doc that's been opened in Notability. Students can either handwrite their responses or type. They can easily annotate paragraphs. There's even a recording option available by pressing on the microphone icon. 

My completed reading response that is ready to turn in
Once a student is finished, he or she can even submit their work to you electronically. By choosing the action button in the upper left corner of the note, you can choose a destination. Now, here's the really cool part. If your students already have a folder created that is shared with you, they can drop it straight in. Then you'll have access to their assignments in the Drive app or your Drive account on a computer. So easy. 

Of course, this work flow would work for any subject. Notability lets you add photos, take photos, add webclips or sticky notes. For science, students can find a picture of an object and diagram the parts. Then it can be turned in directly to you from the iPad. You could even complete running records on the iPad, complete with a voice recording and annotation. The possibilities are endless. I hope you try it out!

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